PCSD Response to Regional Increase in COVID-19 Cases
With Monroe County and the Finger Lakes Region recently designated as a high risk zone due to the rise of COVID-19 cases, Pittsford Central School District continues to work closely with the Monroe County Department of Public Health (MCDPH) in reporting cases, conducting contact tracing and closely following COVID-19 safety protocols. As cases rise in our community, cases inevitably rise in schools, and the District continues to reinforce a layered mitigation approach to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 in schools.
Each time the District or MCDPH is notified of a positive COVID-19 case, the MCDPH and District work together on contact tracing. Cases are looked at by classroom, grade level, bus route, lunch and classroom seating charts, social distancing habits, neighborhood connections and other considerations.
When there are two or more COVID-19 cases in a classroom, a message is sent to families of students in that classroom. Due to privacy laws, details of which student or staff member tested positive cannot be shared.
In the example of the recent situation at Thornell Road Elementary School (TRE), the District saw a significant increase in TRE students who tested positive for COVID-19. For each new case, contact tracing with MCDPH was conducted. Any child that was determined to be a close contact with a positive case at school was sent home and, according to the MCDPH, quarantined. Initially, contact tracing showed a pattern of cases within neighborhood friends. However, ongoing contact tracing did not lead to any conclusions about the spread of COVID-19.
The District expanded its mitigation strategies at TRE to include staggered snack times so that alternate rows of students eat at separate times, increased communication around cases, and additional reminders about mask wearing on the bus. A free COVID-19 testing clinic for TRE students was also set up. This after-hours clinic for TRE students was available on three evenings and offered two types of COVID-19 tests with results available within two hours: rapid tests for asymptomatic students and PCR tests for symptomatic students. Students who had a fever or worsening symptoms were asked to go to a health care provider.
Reporting COVID-19 Positive Cases
Newly reported COVID-19 cases in PCSD are available in the NYS COVID-19 School Report Card that includes data from around the state. This dashboard allows you to search by district or school.
Quarantine and Remote Learning
Superintendent of Schools Michael Pero is in contact with the Monroe County Commissioner of Public Health nearly every day. At this time, the Commissioner of Public Health believes PCSD’s protocols remain effective in mitigating transmission as much as possible given the current rise in cases, and that schools are still safer than the broader community.
The decision to go remote for a classroom is one that would be made with the advice of MCDPH. In the event that PCSD needs to close a classroom or a building, the District has a remote plan ready where students will receive a combination of synchronous and asynchronous instruction. In the event an individual student has to quarantine, this situation is treated similar to other sick absences and the teacher will prepare work for the child that is absent.
The best means of air purification and COVID-19 protection are air handling units that move the required amount of air and turnover rate. The District’s HVAC systems have been designed and approved by NYSED Facilities Planning, and meet or exceed Centers for Disease Control and Prevention New York State Education Department recommendations, with the majority exceeding recommendations.
New York State only recommends that school districts install portable air cleaners or purifiers in areas without ventilation. NYS advises, “The use of portable filtration devices do not decrease the need for mask wearing, physical distancing, sanitation practices, or adequate ventilation.” Portable air purifier devices are limited in the amount of air they filter per hour. They might reduce, but may not eliminate particles, viruses or microbes in the air. Additionally, they add maintenance, costs, noise, possible trip hazards with extension cords, and if not maintained, add more particles that outweigh any benefit achieved over the current ventilation and practices.
To help prevent the spread of COVID-19, we encourage families and staff members to review the below protocols and protective measures the District has in place.
- On the bus, staff and students are required to wear properly fitted face masks at all times and students must remain in their assigned seats.
- Staff and students are required to wear a mask indoors, regardless of vaccination status.
- Classroom spacing meets or exceeds the required three feet of physical distance.
- Snack times are staggered so that alternate rows of students eat at separate times and students eat at least six feet apart while masks are removed.
- Special area classes (PE, music, art, library) are following all recommended practices and protocols.
- At recess, students playing in close proximity to each other are monitored and reminded to maintain an increased level of separation. Since outdoor masking is optional, please talk with your child about your preference for mask wearing outdoors.
- In the lunchroom, masks are required until just before students start eating and must be replaced as soon as they stop eating.
- PCSD continues to reinforce proper handwashing/hand sanitizing techniques.
- PCSD continues to use best practices for cleaning/disinfecting of all classrooms, gathering areas and workspaces.
Please watch this video to see Superintendent Pero discuss the District’s current measures to mitigate the spread of COVID-19: https://youtu.be/eHeTxG9LA8s.
Please send any school-related questions to your child’s school principal or for District questions, please contact Shana Cutaia, our COVID-19 District Liaison, at Shana_Cutaia@Pittsford.monroe.edu.